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Minister of the Environment Rein Randver replied to the interpellation (No. 263) concerning farm forests, submitted on 15 January by Member of the Riigikogu Tiit Niilo. The interpellator proceeded from the fact that the merger of unreturned or unprivatised former farm forests with the state forests would begin this year which is, in the opinion of the interpellator, in conflict with the purpose of the land reform and the development plan of the Estonian forestry until the year 2010.

Mr. Randver quoted the above development plan, saying that the virgin forest lands which belonged to the state before 1940 would be transferred only in a case when this would improve the efficiency of land use, for example small detached plots of land could be given up. This must proceed from the wish to preserve the territorial distribution of state forests in counties, proportionally with the virgin state forests in the same area. As it is simpler and cheaper to impose restrictions on the management of state forests than private forests, the importance of state forest lands for the protection of nature, culture, heritage and other values which meet the interests of the majority of the society, will be given greater significance. “The state owned forests which are to be transferred or privatised will be managed until their transfer or privatisation together with the virgin state forest,” Minister said.

The development plan determines the role of the State Forest Management Centre which continues to organise the management of forests in state ownership. Mr. Randver explained that the State Forest Management Centre had started to merge the former farm forests of unspecified ownership with the state forests mainly due to the following reasons. The area of the state forest land, also pursuant to our Forest Act, must involve at least 20 percent of the area of the land of the Republic of Estonia. Secondly, the fragmentation of lands will be reduced, which enables optimal use of managing resources. Thirdly, the areas which are subject to nature and heritage protection will remain in state ownership thus avoiding later need to deal with their exchanges and compensation. Fourthly, the State Forest Management Centre follows the principle of forest lands optimization and the word “optimization” should be dealt with as a two-sided one, as it involves the merger of lands as well as the transfer of lands, if necessary. “According to our information, approximately 70-90,000 hectares may conform to those conditions,” Mr. Randver said.

The report submitted to the State Forest Management Centre by the Board includes the main prerequisites for registering the lands as state forest lands: no application for transfer or privatisation has been submitted; a plot of land is located within the parametres of a forest plot, already registered in state ownership, a plot of land borders with a forest plot already registered in state ownership; a plot of land forms a part of the drainage system of the forest land in state ownership; a plot of land is subject to nature and heritage protection restrictions. The Minister of the Environment stressed the last condition in particular. On conditions cited the formalisation of a plot of land into state ownership should be completed without taking into account the size of the area.

Minister of the Environment also repliedto the interpellation (No. 264) concerning the implementing provisions of the Forest Act, submitted on 15 January also by Member of the Riigikogu Tiit Niilo.

Minister of Justice Rein Lang replied to the interpellation (No. 258) concerning the article in Eesti Ekspress of 21 December, submitted on 21 December by Member of the Riigikogu Mart Opmann.

The reply of Chancellor of Justice Allar Jõks to the interpellation (No. 267) concerning the authorities of Minister in the legislative proceeding of a Bill, submitted on 25 January by Member of the Riigikogu Liina Tõnisson, did not take place because of the absence of the interpellator.


The Riigikogu Press Service